tv CNN Newsroom CNN April 28, 2011 11:00am-1:00pm EDT
cnnpolitics.com. suzanne malveaux takes over from him. >> this is a tough show. a lot of bad news for folks, and they're trying to dig out of tornadoes. >> a lot of prayers being said today. live from studio 7, i'm suzanne malveaux. let's get you up to speed for thursday, april 28th. it's a fee row shus tornado outbreak that killed more than 230 people across the south. tuscaloosa how many of the university of alabama appears to be the hardest-hit community. 36 are confirmed dead after a mile-wide twister plowed through town. just watch. >> trdestroying a big chunk of tuscaloosa. now it's doing major damage in tuscaloosa.
>> unbelievable, just hard to watch. a tornado tore a path from tuscaloosa to birmingham's western suburbs. >> i could feel the pressure change, and, of course, my heart was racing. you see things like that in movies and everything, but you never see anything like that in real life. to be able to see something like that so close, and we didn't know, you know -- it turned away from us, but we really didn't know what was going to happen. >> the tornado outbreak touched 13 states. the national weather service's storm prediction center says 164 tornados were reported on wednesday alone. it may turn out to be the country's deadliest tornado outbreak since 1974. tuscaloosa's mayor calls the damage there catastrophic. neighborhood after neighborhood is in splinters this morning. rescuers are still combing, trying to find anybody who may be trapped in that wreckage, and
it is storms rolled into georgia. that is where 11 people died last night. many of the deaths occurred when a hotel south of chattanooga took a direct hit from a twister. thunderstorms from this deadly spring weather system stretch up and down the eastern seaboard. that is happening today. tornadoes killed eight in southern virginia this morning. the system is losing intensity as it moves towards the atlantic. decimated and obliterated is how people describe the towns and cities hit by this wave of tornados and storms. we'll check in with our correspondents in some of that hardest-hit areas. reynolds wolf is live from tuscaloosa, alabama. martin savidge is in pleasant grove, alabama and meteorologist jacqui jeras is at the weather center here tracking all of these threats as well as more storms, more storm threats for today. the mayor of tuscaloosa says there are parts of the city he
doesn't even recognize because of the tornado damage. reynolds wolf, you're there. give us a sense. what is it like? what are you seeing on the ground? >> reporter: i can tell you that i've been in weather for 19 years. he grew up in the state of alabama. i started early in my career and covered tornadic events in the great state of alabama. suzanne, i've never seen anything like this. the devastation is almost indescribable. it's just a twisted mess of wood, of metal, of shattered trees and automobiles, of clothing that once belonged to some of these families. here in tuscaloosa alone there are many people missing. however, the death total is right at 36. however, as we make you're way over the next couple of hours and days, there's every reason to believe that number may go up quite a bit. if you're wonders what it must be like to actually experience something like this, we have some answers.
hopefully they will shed the light on what its like to be in a situation like this. we're here with this youngster. your name is? >> michael pierce. >> reporter: take us back dwroed. you were living close to this exact location. can you tell us what you experienced? >> i was in the living room playing the xbox 360 with my friend, and all of a sudden we listened to the news. the meteorologist said that it was coming towards us, and we just ran back to the bathroom. it sounded like trains and like somebody threw a flash grenade in it. that's how it was. >> reporter: it's got to be a surreal experience to hear a warning on television and to know it's coming for you. was it kind of an out-of-body experience. >> it's like a rush. you just got up and started to run way from it. as i was leaving, when the windows explodes and glass cut me in the back of leg, and then it was crazy, man. the first time i ever had
something like this happen to me. >> reporter: after it struck from start to finish, how long do you think the process took? >> about a minute and a half, something like that. everything was gone. >> reporter: after a minute and a half stillness? >> just complete stillness. >> reporter: you spring to the door and look outside. what do you see? >> just destruction everywhere. people crying and running around trying to see where their loved ones and everything was. i didn't know what to do. >> reporter: what about friends and family? is everyone okay? >> well, i haven't found like everybody in tustuscaloosa. i haven't heard from everybody. people i'm close with i have heard from, but not everybody. >> reporter: well, i know you mentioned that you had a bit of the warning from the television meteorologist, but in terms of tornado sirens, did you hear anything? did you have any clue? >> yeah, i heard sirens, but it wasn't loud. they say the siren got destroyed or whatever, so i wasn't thinking it was coming like right then and there.
it wasn't too like aware until the meteorologist said that it was coming or whatever. >> reporter: as we wrap things up, what's in store for you for the rest of the day and the weekend? >> just trying to get the rest of my things and whatever i can get out of my apartment or whatever. that's it. i had to go to class, but i guess class is canceled or whatever. >> reporter: best of luck to you. thank you so much. i appreciate it. >> thank you. >> reporter: that's the story. we're going to see these stories unfold the rest of the weekend. a lot of people trying to just really kind of come to terms to what happened in this community across parlts of alabama, georgia, the carolinas and tennessee and mississippi. it's been a horrific severe weather season, and we have a ways to go. >> if you could, can you have the camera pan and see where you are, just the scope of the devastation there. >> reporter: absolutely. let's take a look. jonathan, come with me for a moment. jonathan is behind the camera. this is a true testament of how
strong the winds were here, how strong the damage happens to be, we have a family coming by, but i want you to look across the way. jonathan, i'll sift through these cars and maybe a car between us. suzanne take a look at this fence. there was once a fence that stood here. the winds in excess of 200 miles per hour picked up that debris, knocked this thing over and right into this old armory we have near tuscaloosa. this vehicle is a humvee. that's a combat vehicle. it's strong and armored and supposed to withstand some tough things that happen in combat. but really no contest when it came to this tornado. you look at these trucks here, these things ripped to shreds. we have some that you can't see that are far beyond the ones here in the foreground. we've got a truck that is in excess of 5 tons turned over on its side all due to the winds of this massive tornado. >> reynolds, thank you so much for showing us that. obviously, we wish the people there just the best to try to
help recover and cope. let's go to the devastation in georgia, at least 11 deaths confirmed in that state. i'll bring in rafael romo live at ringgold with the board ef er of tennessee. most of the georgia detss happened around ringgold, in that area. are rescuers still looking for survivors? do they think there's still people alive? >> reporter: it's a big possibility at this point, suzanne, but right now authorities are just going to different parts in this area in ringgold and also throughout the county trying to find survivors. let me show you how incredible the power of nature can be. behind me it's an assembly hall. this is welcome hill baptist church here in ringgold. you can see how the wall -- one of the walls was completely destroyed by the power of the tornado.
and then it was like the tornado came through this area in a very precise way, because if you look right there, you see the trees that were completely uprooted, completely destroyed, but then we take a look at the church itself, and as you can see, the building was completely spared. they tell us that the steeple was blown away and lying in an adjacent field. that's the situation here. apparently the tornado came through and spared buildings and houses just adjacent to this area, but the church was completely destroyed. again, seven people dead here, but authorities are still going through different parts of the county and trying to come up with a -- this is just a preliminary figure and trying to come up with a final figure on where the death toll stands. >> are they hopeful they might find people they haven't found
already? >> reporter: they are very hopeful. in order to make this process more expedited, they have requested people, just regular folks, to come here and help them to remove debris, to help with the search and rescue effort, to work with firefighters, and we have seen people coming from other counties. we just saw a gentleman in this area who brought his own equipment to help firefighters here and search and rescue crews removed the debris and helped in the operation. >> we know when these tragedies happen, there's a sense of community and spirit among many people. we really appreciate those volunteers. 32 deaths are confirmed in mississippi this morning. that state had a two-day run-in with this whole storm system. the damage is reported in 50 of mississippi's 82 counties. now, tennessee, emergency officials say storms killed 30 people in that state. one of the deaths happened near
chattanooga in an rv park. nuclear regulators are keeping an eye on the browns ferry nuclear power plant near athens today. the three reactors automatically shut down after losing power due to storms. seven diesel generators kicked in to provide electricity to cool the nuclear material and prevent a meltdown. a rundown of some of the stories we're covering this hour. first, why so many people died in this tornado outbreak. plus, i'm going to talk live with georgia governor nathan deal about the storm damage as well. then we go to libyan rebels fighting to hold onto misrata while moammar gadhafi is now giving guns to civilians. later are pentagon cuts are easier if you're a defense secretary former budget director. we'll find out.
also air traffic out of control. a pilot, an old friend shows us what's wrong with modern aviation. >> look at this. you have more gps technology in your family suv than a typical airliner does. work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible. in an effort to give you the best network possible. have you ever been next towith a that car that pulls up to athis? stop light and it sounds like it's metal to metal? so these are your pads... and this pad... that is definitely destroyed, beyond worn out. right. it's a sad face pad. well, it could also be a happy face pad. it could be. but it's not. because it wasn't changed. get a free brake inspection and a $40 rebate
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i have my life, and i thank god for it. i have to live in testimony. >> the death toll keeps rising from powerful storms that swept through the south. the latest figures confirm that more than 230 people were killed in six states. our meteorologist jacqui jeras is joining us. we've been talking about this throughout the morning. lots of questions about this. the death toll will rise as search and rescue go to some of those hardest-hit areas. why did so many people die because of this weather pattern? >> there are a lot of different reasons. let's start out first and show you the video of this tornado. this was pretty much as bad as it gets, as big as it gets. this shows you the debris picked up in the tornado at its widest point it was probably over a mile wide. i've seen some reports about a mile and a quarter. when you have a huge wedge tornado on the ground that's that wide it envelopes everything, everything in its
path is obliterated. some tornadoes are almost not survivable. you literally have to be underground to stay safe in that situation. take a look at this picture. reynolds wolf got this for us today, and this is in tuscaloosa. you can see that there's no basement here. everything's been wiped clean basically off of this slab. if you were in this home, there's really nowhere safe to be. unfortunately in alabama a lot of people don't have basements, so they have to come to other means to find safety. another reason, you know, potentially is complacent see. the sirens go off a lot in alabama, so a siren goes off, you look out your window, nothing's going on. you might not seek shelter. some people may have decided not to heed these warnings as well. resource are limited. alabama is not a terribly wealthy state. i just saw a study that showed about 49% of people in alabama
have internet. so they don't always receive all the information that you get. so information is power. the more you know, the better off you are. a large, violent tornado being so strong and so many of them all over the plas, all these things contributing to a high death toll. >> is there any advice you give folks that might look at another weather pattern like this, strong tornadoes coming their way? >> absolutely. this is the fujita scale that shows you how strong. when we talk about ef-4 to ef-5, maybe 160 to 200-mile-per-hour windzs. you need to get cover or go to the interior room. the more wall between you and that tornado the better off you will be. get into a closet, get under a stairwell if you can. mobile homes are very dangerous places to be. you want to get out of that mobile home. i slept in my basement last night. my mom has come over to my house
during tornado issues before because she doesn't have a basement. you have to plan that day ahead of time saying do i have a friend across town? is there a shelter somewhere nearby to seek refuge? planning ahead is really key. >> thank you so much. tuscaloosa, alabama took a direct hit from the tornadoes. at least 36 people were killed when a twister flattened parts of that city. the mayor is amazed anyone survivored. the described the devastation earlier on cnn's "american morning." >> we're short on men, materials and equipment. fortunately, the governor has been outstanding in resources. hopefully will have throw and will continue to flow as we continue search and rescue. recovery efforts probably will not begin for nor 24 to 48 hours. our focus right now is finding citizens who are hurt and finding those that are missing so we can then begin the process. i don't know how anyone
survived. we're used to tornadoes here in tuscaloosa. it's part of growing up. when you look at this path of destruction that's likely five to seven miles long and in areas half a mile to a mile wide, i don't know how anyone survived. it's an amazing scene. there's parts of the city i don't recognize, and that's someone who has lived here his entire life. >> it's an unbelievable scene. the mayor will be a guest on cnn "newsroom" today. from take-off to landing, what goes on between a pilot sxar traffic controller is crucial. miles o'brien takes us along for the ride.
controllers have got a lot of attention lately with some caught sleeping or watching movies on the job. our cnn in depth coverage air traffic out of control is taking a closer look at the problem. today private pilot and aviation analyst miles o'brien shows us the interaction between a pilot and controller. >> wow. what a nice day for flying. just some puffy, cotton ball clouds. a little bit gusty, but a good day to be in the air. it's quarter of 10:00. this is my airplane. it's a lot smaller than a commercial airliner, obviously,
but still flying in the same system as the airliners using air traffic control in exactly the same manner. flaps at 50, new transponder at vfr. it's good. >> clear to alpha, golf, charley. >> charlie is taxiing right now. we're headed off to the north and west out of college park. let's do it. >> okay. everything is in the green. we're looking for about 70 knots and will go a little faster today, and here we go. let's go flying. just off college park. the system is a 1950s architecture based on ground-based radar, spinning antennas on the ground. radar by definition has a latent
see, or a lag to it. takes the antenna to spin around for 12 seconds. in today's day and age, faa is making progress on this satellite system. truth is you have more gps technology in your family suv than the typical airliner does. we have all the technology in this airplane for >> feels great. >> angela: the simplicity of how it works, the gentleness of how it feels, the long
with the diamond tip, re directly there's a 737. >> into right traffic for runway 22, clear the line. aviation is safe if it's done well and right, and if corners are not cut. air traffic control is just part of the picture. we're focusing on that a lot right now. in a way that's very healthy because we're focusing on events that have not led to people getting hurt.
so let's hope that's a wake-up call for the system. >> our miles o'brien joins us from chicago. we covered a lot of stories for cnn. it's great to see. as always excellent reporting. you make it look almost easy to fly a plane there, the way you have the controls. is it any different -- you were in a small, private plane. any different in how you would interact if you were piloting a big plane, a jumbo jet, for instance? >> thank you very much, first of all. i think a good analogy the rules of the road are the same when you're driving down an interstate whether you're in a tiny little kia or driving a big semi. now, the guy driving the semi has a different set of licensing requirements. he has to stop at the weigh station and so forth. it's different operations. but the fact is the speed limit is the same, and the rules of the road remain the same. that's the case in this. although my plane is very small i'm flying in the same system
with the 747s and dealing in that environment in the same way following the same rules. >> has there been a case when you haven't got ahold of an air traffic controller? >> yeah, it happens every now and then. usually what happens is in the course of a flight -- i was flying in that case the day before yesterday from washington all the way here to chicago with a stop in pittsburgh. about every 10 or 15 minutes as you pass over ground radio stations going back to the notion of a ground-based system. you get handed off from controller to controller. every now and then things get lost in the hand-off. occasionally you have to kind of double-check the frequency, circle back to the previous frequency. sometimes there's a backup frequency to go to. there's many layers of capability in the system usually that allow you to get in touch. now, if you can't get in touch with somebody, you have a flight plan and you're supposed to fly the flight plan as you have been
instructed. you have a little transponder code you put in there and say inlt in contact with you, i'm not talking to you. they will look at your flight plan. it would be their assumption and the rules are are that you're supposed to fly the last flight plan, the last instructions you get. in theory you could fly to that airport without communication. these scenarios are unlikely, although we've seen them happen recently. the pilots in those situations, as unsafe as that sounds, the system is built to absorb that kind of -- i wouldn't call it an emergency situation, but an unusual situation. >> and miles, it's an interesting an varioniversary t. the first space tourists blasted into space ten years ago? >> changed space forever. nasa was not happy about it. today it's a whole different story. i have a story about it on my website, mileso'brien.com. check it it out in my blog. there's my plug.
>> we love your work, miles. >> okay. thank you. >> it's great because he'll be back again tomorrow. miles o'brien is back with you as nasa prepares to launch space shuttle "endeavour" on its final mission. of course, we are keeping an eye on the violent tornadoes from last night. towns have been leveled, people are picking up the pieces. >> just complete destruction. it was amazing and sad at the same time. [ cellphone vibrates ] before you say anything, it was 1995. [ kenny ] it was '93. kenny, 1995 was the year the song came out. it was '93. that was your 5th year of high school. it was 1995. ha! 10 bucks says it's '93. yeah, well that's 10 bucks you're gonna have to put in my pocket. whatever. "whoomp! there it is" was '93. it was clearly nineteen ninety... kenny, the restaurant's on fire. i'll call you back.
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here's a rundown of some of the stories we're working on. the war in libya has turned a bho whole city in a wasteland. a shake up in the pentagon could affect the mission in afghanistan. later the south is reeling. we're trying to make sense of the massive destruction, the science behind the tornadoes. we want to bring in chad myers. chad, tell us about what we're learning now. more damage out of alabama. >> i think yesterday was so amazing to me because of the number of very large tornadoes on the ground. we're going to show pictures of what it looked like right here. here's brand new video. this is all day long.
we will get video like this, and at times worse than this all afternoon long because the shooters are there, the photographers are out there and doing what they can. emergency managers are just getting to some of these towns because trees have been across the roadways. we haven't been able to get some some towns. this is pleasant grove, alabama. we new the first town that was hit was coleman, alabama. we knew they lost a steeple on the church. the town was hit by a small f-2 tornado somewhere around 120 miles per hour. as the day and the night went on, we saw so many what we believe to be f-3, f-4 and pa l possibly f-5 turornadoes on the ground. that's probably only an f-1. let's focus on the three f-4s on the ground. it was a priority session we had all night long, and every warning -- the weather service -- let me tell you. the weather services out of mississippi, alabama, georgia and tennessee and up the east coast, they were on top of every
rotating thunderstorm and at times we didn't know how they did it. it was so difficult to keep your eye on six different tornadoes. >> these are new pictures from pleven gro plevent grove. when you look at the piblgts what is your sense of the kind of power of tornadoes that whipped through this area? >> there's a scale. it used to be a damage scale, a wind scale, and it's gone back and forth and what it really is. here's how i see it. if you're talking about an f-0 and talking in the 80 to 100-mile-per-hour range, probably les, you lose shingles and the roof. you might be able to look down inside the home from above. then you lose walls into 3. when you can't find the walls, then you're at a 5. so you're at 200 miles per hour at a 5. this looks to me if that was a well-built structure -- it's hard to tell how well structures are built. that looks like f-1 damage. not bad. when you see twisted trees up
there, that tornado may have just missed that house but hit that tree directly. that looks like a 2 or 3. that building is at least 140 to 160-mile-per-hour wind damage. the weather service -- we've talked how many times. is this a record season? is this a record season? i think last night put us over for april for sure. >> xhchad, thank you so much. we'll talk about the pictures and what folks deal today when they see this devastation. thank you, chad. appreciate it. find out more on how you can help those devastated by the tornadoes sh tornadoes, go to cnn.com/impact. you'll find organizations in ways to help those in need. that is cnn.com/impact. forty years ago, he wasn't worried about retirement. he'd yet to hear of mutual funds, iras, or annuities. back then, he had something more important to do. he wasn't focused on his future
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kate middleton will have one more day to be a commoner before tieing the knot with prince william. in less than 24 hours she'll be officially royalty, and you'll see all the romantic moments of the wedding here on cnn. we'll go to buckingham palace. that is where the royal parties will start to take place. i think they're already starting. that's where we find richard quest. richard, has the party started?
>> reporter: hello, suzanne. this is what most people -- this is what many people will be enduring over the next 24 hours. welcome to the tents that are on the mall. assuming i can get out of this, thousands of people -- not with my bad back. thousands of people are camping in makeshift accommodations. this is a fine piece of accommodations. how much did it cost? >> it cost all of 10 pounds. >> reporter: that's $15. they spared no expense here. >> you get charged 150 pound a night in my tent. >> reporter: what are you doing sleeping on the streets tonight? >> because i want to see the queen. >> reporter: is it worth sf? >> worth it. i came from ji brar tar so it is worth it. are you well provisioned to
tonight? >> i everything i need. >> reporter: doesn't look like it to me. some people for whom it's been too much. you have to kweep your voice down, suzanne. keep your voice down, because some people are -- >> sleeping? sleeping on the street, huh? >> reporter: how on earth he's managing to sleep through all of this is quite amazing, but there we are. look, the fact is people are arriving now. here's another tent. very nice. nice tent. >> thank you. >> reporter: you're going to be cold tonight, you think? >> we're fine. we'll curl up. >> reporter: you're getting two people in there. >> you've invited yourself to all the parties so far. we have two tent invitations there, and obviously, it looks like a huge tailgate party. i know there's moments we should look out for tomorrow, things we cannot miss. what should we be looking for? >> the things that you must not
miss tomorrow really comes at 11:00 london time, 6:00 in the morning eastern time, 3:00 pacific, and that is when kate middleton gets out of the car, the rolls-royce at westminster abbey. that's when you will see the dress in all its glory. secondly, don't miss the vows to make sure they get the names right. diana got charles' name wrong and sarah ferguson mangled up andrew's name as well. don't miss the fan fare when they sign the rej sterile. it's a spekd 30-second fan fare written for this occasion. it will wake the dead in the aba abbey. finally at 25 past -- well, hello. he's woken up. finally don't miss the kiss. it will be dune on the balcony, and it will -- not you, dear.
the kiss. it will be down on the balcony, it will be at about 25 past, quarter past 1:00 london, that's quarter past 8:00 east, quarter past 5:00 out on the west. there's other things you must not miss, and this lot. don't miss them, because they'll all cheer. >> all right. >> reporter: like trained pavlovian dogs. >> we'll get up and be up early with you tomorrow to see all of this. thank you so much. it's been a blast so far. we're going to be up at least in 4:00 in the morning to see all of this. cnn will bring you complete coverage of procession and wedding ceremony at westminster abbey starting tomorrow at 4:00 in the morning eastern. cnn's anderson cooper, piers morgan, richard quest, and cat dealy are live from london. set your dvr if you're not home. the actual ceremony takes place
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that is actually mississippi, however. and tuscaloosa, alabama. when we look at these pictures, what do we see that is actually new here? >> this was a killer tornado as it moved across the road as it went north of philadelphia. it got up into kind of a rural area, and unfortunately three people in that rural area lost their lives. even though it's not going through major town. those flashes are when the tornado tears the power lines from the power poles and you get sparks from the transformer. you see big, bright flashes on the ground. sometimes they're blue or green. when you stee that damage is done on the ground. that's not a lightning strike. that was damage from the power line or transformer itself. here you see the storm getting much bigger, and we were watching this on the ground here. you can actually go to severestudios.com and during chases watch these chasers live. we don't recommend getting out there. he's within a mile and a half of
that tornado. the problem is you can't see it over the ridge line. let's listen it to some of this audio. there you see the tornado is gone. we're running out of tape here, so we're going to talk back over it again. the trees are down everywhere. trees killed many people last night. >> whether you saw that video, could you give a sense how fast that was moving? he's a mile or mile and a half away. that thing was flying. >> it was only moving 30 to 35 miles per hour. they picked up speed later in the evening. the storms through mississippi were 30, 35 miles per hour. there were without a doubt -- you could get away from these storms or at least see them coming and get into shelter. >> let's take a listen. >> that's essentially moving -- that is moving across the road. >> he's closer than a mile. he's 150 yards away.
he's too close there. he knew where it was going and he knew where it was headed. he knew where he was. >> the people in those homes that are near that tornado, would they possibly survive something like that at all? i mean, this things looks so huge, that it doesn't even seem possible. >> believe it or not, that's probably 120 to 125 miles per hour. that's more like 140 miles per hour right there, moving up towards the f-3 range. you can certainly survive the f-3. it's the 4s and 5s that will tear apart any home. let's go to video here out of tuscaloosa. this is just in from our affiliate wvua. they haven't been able to send us anything because for most of the night they were in their own shelters or trapped in buildings. so they've been out shooting daylight video now of what this place looks like. there are -- as it moved across tuscaloosa and it was just south
of the university of alabama and that's not good or bad, that's where it tracked along 15th street. you're going to see -- i'm making up this naum. a taco del something, smal shops, sub sandwich shops are not there anymore. the building is not there anymore. the foundation and slab is there, but the entire building is not there. if people took shelt ner in tha building, they're lost. they were killed. >> if someone was in a basement, for instance, would they have been able to survive something like that? >> mostly likely with a 4 or 5, you must be underground. at times foundations will -- the house will fall into the basement, but still the winds are lowered the lower you go, and the underground in a storm shelter with a door like they build in oklahoma, kansas, oklahoma, and parts of nebraska and such, it's the perfect place
to go. there are new building codes coming up where people can put safe buildings, safe rooms in their house basically surrounded by kevlar. that's what a sandwich shop or whatever it was -- >> you were talking about that. you see the booth and seats that remain there, and we saw video, too. it looked like people were leaning over. perhaps they were praying. perhaps they're looking for anything that might have survived this. >> natural guard is doing the search and rescue. national guard knows there are survivors in that rubble. there are still pockets in the rubble for people that are missing. they are still alive, and so that's the job now of the search dogs and teams to find those people alive. the dogs know the difference between a fatality and a live person, and they will be going through all of this rubble. there's so much. the devastation is so long.
that tornado may have been on the ground for 60 miles a quarter-mile wide at times, you're talking about 30 square miles of devastation that these men and women have to go through to try it to find people that are still alive. >> you know, it's optimistic and hopeful to think there are people that are still alive and trapped. >> all morning i've heard, yes, we're going to find more dead and fatalities, but i just want to be a little optimistic. we'll find survivors. >> we appreciate the optimism, chad. thank you. aid organizations are on the groun setting up shelters. find out how you can help by going to our website, that is cnn.com/impact. we are covering the battle for libya as well. a whole city now in ruins, and the rebels may be losing a very keep escape route. we're thinking about them. a couple decades ago, we didn't even realize just how much natural gas was trapped in rocks thousands of feet below us. technology has made it possible to safely unlock
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tsh tornadoes. >> what you notice was most striking was the debris in the air. there are pieces of homes. pieces of trees and lives in the air being taken up. and we noticed this yesterday with reports from tuscaloosa. as this storm was just exiting tuscaloosa. there were reports near huie town, alabama, a 20-mile drive -- of shingles falling from the sky. that's frightening. >> i understand this tornado was a mile -- a mile wide. >> were they talking the base a mile wide or up in the sky? >> what would be the difference? how would that influence what kind of powerful destruction that we're seeing with these pictures? >> well, i mean there are just mul
mul multivrotices to tell us minute by minute and hour by hour what this tornado did. but when you think about a cell that can pick up parts of the house, take those parts up into the body of the thunderstorm and the lift that is necessary to lift these pieces of house up into the sky and then throw that debris 20 miles downwind, the tornado was on the ground and debris was falling where it wasn't even raining yet. the cells last night were something that i haven't seen so many of on the ground. when this cell was on the ground and we were watching it, it reminded me of anderson, conditions tornado. reminded me of a red rock, oklahoma where it literally scoured the usas fau asphalt. we are going to get into this hour why a cell, thunderstorm cell that we call a mezo cyclone or a super cell, how does it get
so big? we'll call it a garden variety tornado of 100-mile-per-hour storm compared to a monster of 200 to 230, we've seen some at 270 miles per hour, how do you get there? it is a special cell, a special situation and special circumstances. >> all right, chad. we're going to have more of that as we come back from the break to explain how that actually happened and the impact it has on these communities. >> called a mezo cyclone. we'll get all into it. >> more after the break. droid m. it's everything the tablet should be. starting at $599. by giving me huge discounts on rooms hotels can't always fill. with unpublished rates. which means i get an even more rockin' hotel, for less. where you book matters. expedia. when i got my medicare card, i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too.
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top of the hour. i'm suzanne malveaux. want to get you up to speed. the number of dead in the southern tornado outbreak surged past 230 today. alabama took the hardest hit accounting for more than half of the deaths. this tornado cut a five to seven-mile path through the heart of tuscaloosa, home to the university of alabama. the tornado bypassed the university campus but did not spare neighborhoods, businesses, just a half mile away. the tornado itself was a mile wide at times and the city's mayor is absolutely stunned, calling the destruction catastrophic. >> i've been on the ground several times during the day and during the night and i'm about to go back out again in the next few minutes. i don't know how anyone
survived. we're used to tornadoes here in tuscaloosa. it's part of growing up. but when you look at this path of destruction that's likely five to seven miles long and in an area half a mile to a mile wide, i don't know how anyone survived. it is an amazing scene. there's parts of the city that i don't recognize and i know someone that's lived here their entire life. >> 32 deaths are confirmed in mississippi today. the state had a two-day run-in with this storm system. damages reported in 50 of mississippi's 82 counties. now the tornado outbreak left a scar on 13 states. the national weather service's storm prediction center says 164 tornadoes were reported on wednesday alone. it may turn out to be the country's deadliest tornado outbreak since 1974. from mississippi, to virginia, neighborhood after neighborhood is now in splinters. rescuers are still combing for anyone who may be trapped in the
wreckage. 11 people died in georgia last night. many of the deaths occurred when a hotel south of chattanooga took a direct hit from a twister. and nuclear regulators are keeping an eye on the brown's ferry nuclear power plant near athens, alabama. that is today. because the facility's three nuclear reactors automatically shut down after losing power due to the storms. seven diesel generators kicked in to provide electricity to cool the nuclear material and prevent a meltdown. parts of the south are reeling from the devastating tornadoes and storms. we have live coverage from some of those hardest hit areas. our meteorologist reynolds wolf. he is in tuscaloosa, alabama. cnn's rafael romo is in ringold, georgia. reynolds, you're on the ground. tell us what you are seeing. >> reporter: what we're seeing a just a transformation. less than 24 hours ago, this tree was standing tall and this
building was definitely whole. but at this point everything's different. the storm that came through, this tornado, at times reported as being over a mile wide with winds in excess of 200 miles an hour had, toppled this tree which may have been 60 feet in height. you see devastation everywhere. where we step through you'll find boards, insulation, a little bit of siding here and there but every now and then you'll find a personal item, a shoe, sock, teddy bear, something that meant an awful lot to someone. this is a scene that we've seen all across parts of central alabama from mississippi, over to georgia, even into tennessee and back in the carolinas, utter devastation. you see trees here and there. many situations just ripped free of any vegetation but you've got siding and other pieces of particle. it is just an amazing thing to see. the thing that's so devastating with these storms is not just
the wind but the debris that gets picked up and carried by those wind gusts topping 200 miles per hour where any small piece of wood can become a deadly projectile. that's one of the big issues with a situation like this. you've got to find a way to stay safe from the project aisles, the debris and wind and the safest place is below ground. but unfortunately many people that call this area home don't have the basements or storm cellars. but if you happen to be in a home like that, you're not going to survive. some buildings are a little bit better than others -- go ahead. >> you've been doing a lot of walking there. give us a sense of how big is this space? this was a neighborhood? >> this is part of a neighborhood. i'll show you once we cross over on this side. a crowd's gathering over here. can you see over here you've got an apartment building, jonathan, can you show suzanne and our viewers across america some of the roof damage. you'll notice that it's free of some of the shingles.
but then notice like almost these punk turs. that's from the debris hitting the side of it. notice part of the neighborhood, part of this apartment complex. but then there's part of an old armory on the other side of the street. notice people walking by. some of these amazing trucks, some of these are up to five times in weight, some straight ahead toppled over by the strong wind gust. it is a combination of a neighborhood, an apartment complex and of course the old armory just shows many of these vehicles beyond repair all due to the strong storm. >> just how powerful that was. reynolds, thank you so much. we want the people there to be safe and seek shelter and hopefully be able to pick up their lives again. i want to get to the devastation out of georgia now. at least 11 deaths confirmed in that state. most of them around the town of ringgold. that's one of the hardest hit towns. rafael romo, give us a sense, if you will, what are people dealing with today?
>> reporter: well, suzanne, i'm standing in the parking lot of a church. this is welcome hill baptist church here in the town. one of the first things that caught my attention as we got here is this piece of debris here. this is actually what used to be the steeple of the church was torn off by the strong winds. but if i can show you the church, the structure itself was basically untouched. but the tornado -- the church was basically missed by just a few feet. as you can see, that group of trees right there, the tornado came right there, through that, and then after that it hit this assembly hall behind me. as you can see this part of the assembly hall is completely destroyed. now earlier today i had an opportunity to speak to a woman who lives in the neighborhood and has seen the amount of destruction and how people are coping and she was telling me that one tree fell on one side
of her house but a bigger tree that would have probably destroyed the house and probably caused a lot of harm missed it and she was just very grateful to be alive. let's hear what she had to say. >> the lord was looking after us and saved us from getting hurt. i mean it's terrifying to look at and it is terrifying to know what could have been, it could have fallen right through. the tree in the back that's laying longways as the house could have fallen into the house instead. but all you can do is just thank the good lord that you're alive. you know? >> i also ran into a group of young men who were helping her who were helping the cooper family. they're not from here. they're from other counties and this is something that you're seeing a lot here in this county. people coming from other counties, trying to help. they bring their tools and just
try to bring food and whatever people need. and something else. people here at this church, welcome hill baptist church, something that they wanted to point out to me was that i was showing you at first that cross on the ground that was destroyed by the storms and the tornado. they were pointing to another cross standing right there and what they say is, in spite of what happened, we're still standing on our feet. >> all right, we hope they keep the faith. thank you so much, rafael. i want to track where these storms are right now. our own chad meyers is going to show us where we think they're headed and what actually took place. >> they are still in the northeast. they are still in parts of new york, new jersey, all the way down toward d.c. and baltimore an down into the virginias and carolinas. now in about four hours it will be completely offshore and move away but there are still tornado watches and warnings up and down the eastern sections of the u.s. so it is not over yet for some spots. we're not talking about the size and depth and scale of the
tornadoes that we've had yesterday. but a small little spin-up of 100 miles per hour could certainly do some damage. you need to be inside and away from windows. >> how concerned should people be when they hear this is not over? >> wow. i mean compared to what we've seen yesterday? not. not concerned of an f-5 or f-4 or anything like that but concern that you need to have your kid and pets inside because wind and trees can break a window and you can get cut by glass? sure, absolutely. let's gr to some new video. this is brand-new video from tuscaloosa. these guys are feeding us this in the past couple of hours. it is quite amazing. that's brian denny stadium, the stadium at the university of alabama looking over the top down into the tornado. you'll see little arms of this tornado spinning around. very indicative of a large tornado. this is anderson, kansas. these are big tornadoes. you don't get arms out that as
the whole part spins around itself unless you're talking about that ef-4 to ef-5 damage. i want people to know that this storm just this big went all the way into huie town, alabama. part of the alabama gang, all of the nascar fans will understand that part of the country. then just to the north of birmingham. the reports yesterday when this was right over huie town, buildings are missing. this is from the weather service wire. that was the quote. "buildings are missing." we're seeing those live reports where there's a slab that's just nothing left. >> when you talk about the arm of the tornado. >> you see those little pieces -- there's just more vortices are hanging out because there's so much wind. an ice skater has her arms out and she's skating on one leg. she can spin very slowly with her arms out. that ice skater brings the a
arms in, all of a sudden she's going very fast. there's some name for this skating move is -- i'm not a skater -- but it is the power of the motion that all of a sudden three miles, five miles around up in the atmosphere this whole storm is spinning. then the power of that whole spin is focused in on the tornado itself. we'll get to that super cell in just a little bit. >> just unbelievable pictures that we have been seeing. new pictures as well as from yesterday just devastation and what people are dealing with. want to check on the rundown what we are covering this hour. first, chad will return to give us an update on what he calls the science of the super cell thunderstorm. and why these tornadoes are so ferocious. also, where do you start? how to get on the road to recovery. then, walmart says high gas prices are hurting its core customers. and, take a look at this. grown men playing with toy
airplanes? cnn in-depth, air traffic out of control, looks at faa training techniques. and i'll talk with a woman with big plans for the royal wedding. but she couldn't get a day off from work. we'll see how that turns out. next thing i know they're telling me i can't go, there's no coverage, we can't get you and if you go you're fired. >> you quit. >> yeah. i turned in my resignation. 14 clubs. that's what they tell us a legal golf bag can hold. and while that leaves a little room for balls and tees, it doesn't leave room for much else. there's no room left for deadlines or conference calls. not a single pocket to hold the stress of the day, or the to-do list of tomorrow. only 14 clubs pick up the right
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understand, now. i know are you a resident, a professor at the university of alabama and you narrowly escaped the tornado yourself. can you give us a sense of what happened, how you actually managed to be safe? >> well, suzanne, i think we were quite fortunate. our home was just at the very edge of the major destruction. we were hiding in the bathroom with two of our neighbors who had been living with us since the last tornado on april 15th. i was in the tub with my dogs and we were all just trying to take cover when we heard the storm go over, heard a tree fall on my house, the power of course went off well before that. it was quite frightening. i've never lived through anything like that before. but we were so fortunate that our home just has some tree damage whereas some people in town don't even have a home at all. >> what was that like? take us to that moment when you are in the tub with your two dogs, your neighborhood, you're looking overhead and this thing is passing over. >> you know, it was just
surreal. it was a hard to believe that we were really seeing it. we had been watching the news and when the power went out we still had the radio on and we were listening to the broadcasters almost screaming about how horrible the storm looked. and here we are in the bathroom listening to this. and you know, it was just the most frightening moment of my life. >> what did you hear? >> we heard this incredible rush sound and we heard more like a -- i didn't really hear the typical train engine sound that everybody hears. i think it was because we were on the outskirts of it. but we heard this incredible rush sound just as trees were falling and it just was something i'll probably not forget. >> have you spoken to your neighbor and to your family today? have you talked to them about how you're doing? >> oh, i have. my husband actually is also a
red crosser so we've been working together trying to help with this response. my neighbors have also stoppedpy t by today to see what they can do. there's not a lot we can do in our own homes so it just makes sense to put our training to work and come out and try to do something. >> how many people are in the shelter? are people reaching out to each other? how are they doing? >> well, the shelter is a recreation center run by the city. last night we had 500 people spend the night. today our numbers are going up. i don't have exact numbers yet but our numbers are increasing. people have been coming in on buses from different parts of town. they are reaching out to each other. they're hugging each other. they're sharing stories of where they were last night when the storm came through. so people are coming in looking for missing loved ones. and if people can hear this and they're in a storm affected area, if they can go to
redcross.org and register themselves on safe and well, people are looking for their family and friends and if they could register on safe and well that will help them locate their family members. >> okay, suzanne horseley, thank you so much. we'll put that up so people can look at that and reach out to their friends and loved ones. our own martin savidge is in the suburb of pleasant grove. there are search and rescue operations that are under way. are they still searching now for people who they believe are alive, underneath the debris and rubble? >> they are, suzanne. let me tell you the problem they're up against. as you look down this street here, especially about 50 yards away, you can see the massive tree, the tangle of branches and wires there. that is blocking the way for any heavy equipment. they're trying to bring some other earth moving equipment farther down the street in because that's the only way they'll clear that out the street. those branches, tree limbs are
too big for the average chain saw. they've got to get that cleared. they've got get the light poles out of the way before they can get other equipment down there. most of the search and rescue teams have been having to go and they're on foot. the problem is if they do find people trapped especially if they're down in their basements they need heavy equipment to get the house off of them to try to carry out the rescue. that's item number one, getting it clear. you can hear another team over here just on this side going at it. but it is slow work and they've been going at that tree for some time here. so it is a frustrating delay when it comes to trying to get heavy emergency equipment inside. they're doing the very best they can. 15 teams currently last count we heard that are searching inside of pleasant grove right now. the death toll officially was six. though when i spoke to the chief of police this morning he expects it to be considerably higher by the end of the day. however, we're hoping that really it's people have just simply been disbeursed --
dispersed as a result of the storm. >> chad, give us an update on what we are seeing. it is unbelievable, they're trying to get heavy equipment in but there are so many these that are down. power lines are down. they can't even get to those homes where they hope to find people. >> they need much bigger equipment than a 16-inch craftsman chain saw. they need major equipment and the government, state and federal government, sending equipment if as fast as they can. also mutual aid from many other states coming in to put power lines back up. they also have equipment that they're bringing with them. but you will hear the souchnd o chain saws in that state for months. >> you can only imagine the mood of people there. one thing i noticed is it's devastated and dev lasolate. folks are in shelters. >> a super cell is a storm
that's all by itself. a super cell when you see it on radar -- you'll know it because it will have a hook echo on the bottom of it for at least some of its life -- this is what a super cell looks like. this is not the one from last night but this is an image. right there is the hook. that's the hook echo itself. a little low pressure center that's developing here and eventually that low pressure center turns into a tornado. you'll have hail north of it, and debris getting blown out. that's where tornado was sucking up debris, sucking up shingles, everything, taking them and throwing them in the jet stream, then downwind and it was rain. it was raining debris on towns, downwind. literally. the town hadn't even seen rain yet but yet pieces of other people's houses were being thrown at from up above. here's what it actually looks like. it is a complicated map. i'll take you to it. the cell goes very high in the sky. you might even see something like cauliflower.
then the jet stream blowing across here. almost like when you pull the drown on your tub, it eventually goes down like this. everything in the world wants to spin if it's moving. because the whole world is spinning around it. you don't realize it but right now i am moving 800 miles per hour. can't tell because everything else is moving 800 miles per hour but as the earth is spinning around making a day into night, that's how fast we are going. so the spin comes up into the storm the entire storm spins, especially that focus of all of that rotation, all of that angular momentum gets focused down into one spot and that's down on the ground and that's the tornado. when you have a bunch of storms that are all banging into each other, you don't get f-4, f-5 tornadoes. when you have a storm all by itself like we had a couple of them yesterday, here, here, here, here, not battling tops, all by themselves, that's when you get this type of structure. >> chad, explain to us because we've heard that the united states has more tornadoes than
any other country in the world. it is -- is that true? tell us why. >> that's absolutely true. i don't have quite the map to show it to you here but i can get most of it. but over here we have the rocky mountains, down here the gulf of mexico. the rocky mountains will make a low pressure center, a trough, called a leeside trough. it makes the jet stream sometimes turn like this. when the jet stream turns like this -- think of jet stream like an interstate. little pieces of low pressure will run through that jet stream in streaks, in little -- you'll know when you're flying from new york to l.a., it takes you five hours. when you fly from l.a. to new york it takes you four hours. you say howdy get there so fast? because they were going with the jet stream. as that jet stream moves in we get moisture, humidity you need for a storm, cold air, you need that for a storm, and you can get dry air from the rocky mountains called the dry line. so many things come together in america and we don't have that
joining us on the phone is governor nathan deal, in ringgold, georgia. governor, you just completed an aerial tour. can you tell us what you saw, the extent of the damage? >> well, the damage is horrendous. we have toured primarily the northwestern corner of the state and we will be going back south in just a few minutes to see the damage that was there. as you may know, we had multiple tornadoes that went across our state yesterday. but confirmed death toll i am told now is up to 14 in georgia and we have declared some 16 counties as emergency areas for assistance. we are certainly fortunate that we did not have any more deaths than we did, and i think a lot of that is attributed to the fact of the early warnings and people taking shelter. because this was a series of devastating tornadoes that came across our state and the
property damage and loss of homes and businesses is a tremendous loss to our state. >> governor, can you give us a sense of whether or not there are any cruise that are still searching for people who may be trapped or missing? do we have a sense of whether or not there are still people out there alive who are under rubble? >> we are told that there are still searching ongoing that there are some individuals who are unaccounted for. we don't know if they are simply trapped somewhere or not but that is an ongoing search and rescue effort being done by state as well as local law enforcement officials and ems and fire service people. so it is an ongoing effort. >> do you have any idea how many people are unaccounted for? >> no, i really don't. i hope they are there are not very many but we do know that there are some who are still unaccounted for. >> are there places where people can go to register or communicate with each other to
say, hey, i'm okay, i'm safe? >> i'm sure that there are those sites. i don't have that information at my fingertips. we do have a contact number though for our state at the governor's office. i can give you that. it's 404-656-1776. we have our georgia emergency management association organization here on the scene with me. our commander, our director of that is with me on this tour and we've got people working all across the state in the affected areas. >> you've declared emergencies in several counties. are you confident that you have the resources necessary to deal with this recovery effort and to deal with the search and rescue? >> well, we are certainly going to be making a request of fema, asking for federal assistance. because we do not have the financial resources to do what is necessary and we are hopeful that we will get federal
assistance. >> what do you need most right now? >> i'm sorry? >> what do you need most right now as governor of this state to actually help people who are in need? >> well, we need the kind of assistance that the fema can give us in terms of restitution for local governments who are incurring costs of clearing debris, removing power lines, restore transportation on the ground and also hopefully to have loan assistance for businesses and for families that need to either rebuild their place of business or to acquire other housing. and those will be of primary importance to us and federal assistance in that regard is really crucial. >> governor deal, thank you so much for joining us here at "cnn newsroom." faced with this kind of devastation, how sis a communit really supposed to rebuild? the long road to recovery.
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here's a rundown of some of the stories we are working on. assessing the damage. we have got the latest on the new clear power plant that was hit in last night's storm. and how the towns that were knocked down by this natural disaster can get back up. and later, now they are in charge of getting your flight safely on the ground. how they're actually trained. so after getting knocked down like this, how does a
community get back up? our cnn's carl aseduzeus takes look at what it looks like from a town hit by the disaster. when the sun came out we saw these unbelievable pictures, devastation, people with their own personal tragic stories but we want to provide a sense of hope, it's a long road to recovery but people can recover. >> they can. there are several things that play a role in that recovery. we'll be talking about compassion, connection and communication. when i mention compassion i don't just mean help from within a community but also that help that comes in from outside, whether it is financial aid, volunteering, and a lot of folks have said prayer helps a town rebuild. a couple of pieces of rice that towns who have suffered through disasters like this have for towns that are suffering right now. one, communication and connection. networks. make sure everybody is talking to everybody else. that includes government workers, police and fire departments, and volunteers.
these networks help people prioritize, getting help to where it is needed first. another thing to keep in mind -- documenting. that helps get the money to where it needs to go. when i say documenting, i mean documenting the hours the volunteers work. if a private contractor is hired. if somebody brings in a piece of equipment to clear debris, write down the person who did it and the number of hours he worked, because if the area is declared a federal disaster area, this will help get the money to those people who need it in the places where it is most needed. >> excellent advice. i just talk to the governor of georgia and he is saying he is declaring a state of emergency. people are going to need to be compensated. what's the best case scenario? >> i would probably suggest greensburg, kansas. this town several years ago, 2007, was totally flattened. you see pictures of it here. 95% of the town utterly destroyed. there were 1,400 people who lived there, small town. half of them left. 11 people died in the tornado.
but they did a couple of things afterward that could serve as a model. for one they decided to rebuild greener. greensburg got greener. they dedicated time, they put money -- it takes more time an money to rebuild a green town where buildings consume 42% less energy so residents stayed longer in their fema trailers. they had had some private donors. i remember reading leonardo dicaprio was somebody who helped out with this. another thing this town did that helped recover after this disaster, it was time, it was patience, and essentially they were able to kind of get back on their feet and sort of serve as a model. it took a while, it took some money but they got it together. >> thanks, carl. little bit of hope here. >> always. a nuclear power plant in the path of a killer storm. find out how it actually fared amid so much of the devastation. i'm going to talk to a plant spokesman.
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people have died in alabama because of the severe weather and those thunderstorms. we're also getting more information now. president obama will be touring areas of alabama. that is going to be happening tomorrow. he will be meeting with the governor of alabama to talk about federal assistance, the role of fema and other agencies that will be involved in trying to help alabama and other states get the critical need that resources that they need after the devon stating tornadoes. tuscaloosa, alabama took a direct hit from a powerful tornado. at least 36 people were killed when a twister flattened parts of that city. the mayor says he doesn't know how anybody even survived this. he says that the damage to the city's water system and police and firestations is making the whole thing much, much worse. he described the situation earlier on cnn's "american morning." >> we're facing an overwhelming space station in which we are short on men, materials and
equipment. fortunately the governor has been outstanding and hopefully we'll have flow and will continue to flow for resources as we continue search and rescue. recovery efforts probably will not begin for another 24 to 48 hours. our focus now is finding citizens who are hurt and missing so we can then begin the process. i told our team at 5:30 this morning that search and rescue was our primary focus, then we'll transition into recovery mode but the thing we all have to understab, this is not a matter of hours or days, but talking about a matter of months. our water system is crippled. our infrastructure is crippled and we've got families who have absolutely lost everything, including family members. and it is tragic and it is a dark hour for our city. >> tuscaloosa mayor walter maddox will be our guest next
hour. this system knocked out power to a alabama nuclear plant. nuclear regulatory officials now monitoring that situation. i want to bring in a spokesman for the brown's ferry facility. first, is there any time that safety was compromised at your nuclear plant? >> actually, suzanne, this is bill mccullum with tennessee valley authority in chattanooga, tennessee. no, safety was not compromised at the plant though this is a devastating stompl historic proportions, as you just heard the last story. brown's ferry plant is designed to withstand severe storms of even greater magnitude than this. when the connection to the power grid was lost, all three units safely shut down as designed and power was supplied by the on-side diesel generators and the three units are currently being brought to a cold shut-down condition where we'll
await restoration of the power grid. >> so for those who are in the area and who are keeping a close eye on this, these are reassuring words here that there is no danger, there's no compromise to the safety out of this nuclear plant. is that correct? >> absolutely not. the plant performed exactly as designed. the units have been brought to a safe condition. of course they can't operate until there's a restoration of the power grid but the plants are in a safe condition and will be maintained in safe shut-down condition until the power grid is restored. >> are they vulnerable at all to this kind of activity when you see the kind of power of these storms and these tornadoes that we saw over the last 24 hours? >> not at all. they're actually designed for storms much stronger and tornadoes much stronger than the ones that we saw in the area. even though this was a storm of historic proportions in terms of the waves of storms and numerous tornadoes, that came through the area that the plant structures and equipment were undamaged.
>> how did the nuclear power facility prepare for this? was there any kind of procedure that was in place for the tornadoes or did it just kick in after the fact that it happened? >> i know there are procedures in place prior to any occurrence like this. our personnel trained regularly on procedures for natural events or loss of the power grid as part of our standard procedures and training for operations at the nuclear facility. >> so in your assessment, everything worked as it should have? >> absolutely. the equipment worked exactly as designed. >> all right, thank you very much, bill mccullum, we appreciate your perspective and obviously your words of reassurance to the people in that area and beyond. to find out more on how you can help in the recovery after the tornadoes, go to cnn.com/impact.
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utter devastation from tornadoes that ravaged the south. the storms killed at least 247 people in six states! alabama was one of the hardest hit. emergency officials say the death toll there has now risen to 162. i want to bring in chad. chad, we're looking at pictures, we've seen some of these pictures, just unbelievable. this out of tuscaloosa, alabama. and i know that there are other areas people are wondering are they in danger, are there more tornadoes to come? >> there's still a slight risk today. there is really -- something. the map shows it. we have severe thunderstorms possible into new york city later today and potential for something to be rotating from about philadelphia southward to north florida. that's where the potential exist for the next three or four hours. >> and those who are in tuscaloosa, look at -- just take a look. what were they dealing with? >> i think what you notice the most are the pieces of the earth, pieced of the ground,
pieces of buildings that are in the air and how this tornado was literally scouring the earth clean. what was there, buildings that were there, were knocked down. they were gone. people that were in those buildings unless they were underground were killed or seriously injured. we know that the hospital there -- just looked like a triage unit. they had so many people, just looked like massive car wrecks all over the place, all injured by debris. the national weather service did a fantastic job getting warnings out. the weather men around there did a fantastic job telling even people to put on your bicycle helmets, put the kids' bicycle helmets on. try to protect your head. get under anything. get under everything that you have. get under pool tables. get under air hockeys, under the stairs, into your basement, anything to protect you from what's going to be falling on top of you. >> there are still people today who need to take precautions. >> a few. east of d.c. all the way down to the eastern and low country of
south carolina. it will quickly move offshore in three to four hours and will be over. when you see it go by, it's not coming back. this isn't one round after another. like some places in alabama had three tornadoes come by within ten miles of their town. one. then an hour later, another. then an hour later, another. it was a day yesterday like i've never scene. >> thanks, chad. more after the break.at frequent flyer with restrictions when he tries to use his miles. ♪ that's a lot of red tape! step on it! [ tires screech ] ♪ i can't escape the red tape! now you can with rapid rewards! come on! [ tires screech ] [ male announcer ] join rapid rewards and enjoy unlimited reward seats, no blackout dates, and no red tape. ♪ but afraid you can't afford it? well, look how much insurance many people can get through selectquote for less than a dollar a day.
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the search for tornado victims, 247 confirmed dead already and getting a true measure of the destruction that goes on for mile after mile. neighborhood after neighborhood. we're going to keep you posted throughout the day on cnn. but we are also taking a look at some other stories. time to go cross-country for stories cnn affiliates are covering. first stop, missouri. levees protecting the town. poplar bluff on the black river have crested. spring storms that dumped more than 15 inches of rain in the area in the past couple of days. now to florida where this large brush fire is burning about three miles from shuttle
"endeavour's" launchpad. it was likely sparked by lightning and is not expected to affect tomorrow afternoon's launch at kennedy space center. in arizona, hundreds of protesting students shut down a meeting of the tucson unified school district. they don't like a proposal that would change ethnic studies from a core requirement for graduation to an elective. and it is a high-stress job with one low-tech approach to the training. check it out. >> do you think the traveling public would be surprised at the air traffic controllers who are directing their flights in and out of airports are actually learning to do it with model airplanes? ordinary windshield wipers off the glass. so, did we build a slower car? or design wipers that could handle anything?
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search and rescue efforts are intensifying right now in communities across the south. powerful storms have left a trail of devastation. more than 240 people are confirmed dead in six states. most of the deaths are in alabama. we are assessing the damage, tracking new thunderstorms stretching from new york to georgia. but right now, want to take a look at some other stories in the news. this week, our cnn in-depth coverage air traffic out of control goes inside the complex world of air traffic controllers to better understand the safety concerns. the training program to become one is quite intense. our cnn's casey wian shows us
how it's done. >> reporter: this may look like a grown man playing with a model airplane but he's actually an instructor at the faa's air traffic control training facility. this is what they call their low-tech classroom. it is actually a scale model of an airport runway with all kinds of different aircraft. do you think the traveling public would be surprised at the air traffic controllers who are directing their flights in and out of airports are actually learning to do it with model airplanes? >> i would say probably 80% of our time is spent on the job training plugged in working live traffic. here's an opportunity where we can use simulation training and it gives us an opportunity to stop problems, set up different scenarios that we might not see during live training in the field. >> reporter: the federal aviation administration is training 20,000 air traffic controllers to replace those facing mandatory retirement. >> students off the street probably have more of a hard
time with the language, phraseology. that's why we give them on the first day a phraseology guide to try to get them used to the language of air traffic control. >> reporter: twin cessna 12 didn't a -- oh, man. we find that out first-hand trying to operate the high-tech simulator. >> line up and wait. i messed up there. forget to tell them the runway. >> not too bad. >> that's a little disconcerting how difficult it is and knowing some students come in here having as much trouble as i do. by the time you get them out of here they're ready to go? >> our job is to screen students and see if they can make an air traffic controller. >> reporter: 1 in 5 students don't complete training. those who do must spend one to three years in a tower in order to qualify. >> we have people experienced to train people coming in so rest